Giver, Taker or Matcher… What do we want to role model for our children? What do we want them to become?

A return to the giver and taker theme is where I begin after reading Give and Take – Why Helping Others Drives our Success by Adam Grant. I agree with Susan Cain (author of Quiet) who says, “As brilliant as it is wise, this is not just a book- it’s a new and shining worldview.”

My mom would say to me, “You share too much, be careful! People will and do take advantage of you.” She would also say that she told me to always share but that I took it to an extreme and that I’d give away everything. Then in my late thirties I gave a friend something, I can’t remember what it was but it was meant as a genuine gesture to inspire and support. It was a ‘just because you’re a friend’ gesture. This friend looked at me said thanks but in a dry tone said, “You know you don’t have to give me things. You don’t have to buy friendship.” I was devastated and hurt. This wasn’t my intent I wasn’t trying to buy friendship, I did it because I just wanted to share (or did I? Was I trying to be a pleaser?). While teaching, after suggesting to a grade partner that we could share planning a series of lessons, explaining that I was an over enthusiastic ‘lab puppy’ just wanting to share ideas, he turned to me with chagrin and a sarcastic tone and said, “You know what I’ll just throw a stick way over there and you can chase it.” In my early fifties I had this spicy discussion with a former boss tacking the question: What was the most important trait in our modern society, compassion or discernment? I argued compassion should be the basis of all discernment. Last, I’ll mention that my father used to say, “In this world there are two types of people, givers and takers. It all boils down to that it’s simple.” I would argue with him and say it isn’t simple, it is variable and changes all the time. Sure some people tend to be more one way than another but it is not black or white. This theme has rumbled through this fairy brain pretty much my entire life.

I found this book exceptionally affirming. Research has shown that givers do facilitate and lead success over takers and matchers. It is the givers who end up on the top of the heap and they end up at the bottom. Yes, givers can end up burning out, exploited by takers and perceived as push overs BUT that is if they choose not to keep healthy boundaries by not nurturing and taking care of themselves. It boils down to self-love not selfishness. Also, it is about respecting other’s life lessons and allowing them to experience difficulty, make decisions and NOT rescuing or enabling. This book affirms my mom was right SHARE and do be careful to set healthy boundaries.

Some points that particularly struck me:

  • Takers value wealth, power, pleasure, and winning while givers value helpfulness, responsibility, social justice, and compassion.
  • Giving and sharing in life and business creates positive energy, values everyone, and increases productivity and creativity.
  • The Five Minute favour suggested by Adam Rifkin who states “You should be willing to do something that will take you five minutes or less for anybody.”
  • Expedition Behaviour puts the groups goal and mission first over the individuals. Collaboration.
  • George Meyer, renown writer and entertainment leader, code of conduct: “1-show up 2-Work hard 3- Be Kind 4- Take the High Road”
  • Error on the side of generosity.
  • See the best and potential in someone. Believe in them. Give people a chance to rise to succeed. AND be persistent in encouraging and supporting. “Teacher’s beliefs created self-fulfilling prophecies.” (hmmm scary how our perceptions/judgments can filter and squash growth).
  • Create Reciprocity Rings. See page 261
  • Start a Love Machine page 263
  • Practice Powerless Communication page 265
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help.

Dazzle’s Challenge: At the dinner table, in addition to asking your child what they were thankful for during that day, ask what act of kindness did they do or did they see someone else perform.

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